Many years ago, I met one of my best friends while working with a publishing company out of state. We didn’t see each other often, but we kept in touch in creative ways – and continue to this day. We share life deeply and authentically across the miles.
She is younger than me by a dozen-ish years. When we first met, there were a few messy situations in her life, and I encouraged her the best I could. At one point, she asked if I would mentor her. If it wouldn’t have been such a serious moment, I probably would have laughed, because all I could think was, “Isn’t that what we’ve been doing all this time?!”
Mentoring doesn’t have to be some sort of formal program. It’s simply doing life together. We’d gotten to know each other, and although she often thought I was mostly helpful to her, she had no clue as to how much she encouraged me through our heartfelt conversations. Over the years, we’ve held each other accountable through Bible studies and personal goals. We let each other process and grieve as we each lost a parent as well as a close mutual friend. We celebrated milestones. And she was one of the first people I reached out to when my ex announced he was leaving our marriage, family, and friends. She and her husband provided a safe, healing place for me in more ways than one.
A couple years ago, when I visited her in Colorado, we went for a longer-than-planned hike. I blogged about the unexpected distance. I was a walker; she wasn’t. Near the end of that long hike, I encouraged her to push through to the end. We made it and celebrated, and she started training for runs shortly after that. Within the past year, she has completed several half marathons and many shorter runs and is about to run her first full marathon. For someone who hated running, she has overcome so many potential discouragements and can easily outrun me even on her worst day!
And I love it.
As we were planning my last trip to visit her, we decided to sign up for a half-marathon together. And she slowed to my pace through the entire route. I apologized at first for slowing her down. I told her to go ahead, and I’d see her at the finish line, but she’d have nothing of it. We enjoyed the journey together.
And that’s what friendship is – a shared pace. Over the years, I’ve slowed down for her, and she’s slowed down for me in far more ways than running. I’ve been the one encouraging and challenging her, and she’s done the same for me in so many areas of our lives.
Oh, what a blessing finding a friendship pace and being willing to adjust along the way truly is.